The influence of cross-sectional area on the tensile properties of flexor tendons

Martin I. Boyer, Matthew J. Meunier, Jon Lescheid, Meghan E. Burns, Richard H. Gelberman, Matthew J. Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Clinicians have long noted substantial variation in the cross-sectional size of flexor tendons in the hand; however, data indicating that surgical repair techniques of lacerated flexor tendons should be altered according to size are unavailable. Our objectives were to evaluate the cross-sectional size differences among tendons within the same hand and to correlate tendon size with tensile mechanical properties after suture repair. Fifty human cadaver flexor digitorum profundus tendons were measured with digital calipers to determine radioulnar and volardorsal diameters. Twenty tendons were used to measure resistance to suture pull-through; tendons were transected at the A2 pulley, and a transverse double-stranded 4-0 Supramid suture (S. Jackson, Inc, Alexandria, VA) was passed through the radioulnar plane of the tendon 1 cm from the transection site. The remaining tendons were transected and repaired by using a modified Kessler repair with double-stranded 4-0 Supramid suture. Both tendon repairs and tendon-suture pull-through specimens were tested to failure in tension by using a material testing machine. Dorsovolar tendon height and tendon cross-sectional area varied significantly between digits, with an average difference of approximately 40% between the values of the smallest (fifth) and largest (third) fingers. Yield and ultimate force determined by pull-through tests of the simple transverse suture correlated positively with tendon radioulnar width. Tensile properties of tendons repaired with a double-stranded modified Kessler repair, however, did not depend significantly on tendon size. These results indicate that the strength of the commonly used Kessler suture technique is not dependent on tendon crosssectional size within the clinically relevant range of tendons evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-832
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2001
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Biomechanics
  • Cross-sectional area
  • Tendon
  • Zone II

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